Little brothers and sisters are watching you

November 2010 News & Events

Here we were thinking that big brother was growing all the more powerful and intrusive with every passing day. Not that he/she/it is not, it is just that the British have done away with the need for big brother with a new retail CCTV solution, Internet Eyes.

In a nutshell, users can log into CCTV cameras in stores via the Internet and alert shop owners if they see someone stealing anything. The thinking is, allegedly, that it costs too much for retailers to have someone constantly monitor their cameras, making them fairly useless – which is not a totally foreign idea to many local retailers.

So now, for a cash prize, people with time on their hands can monitor the cameras and raise the alarm when they see someone doing something. Never mind big brother, it is the millions of little brothers and sisters you need to watch out for.

As one can imagine, there have been various comments on this idea, ranging from utter hatred to mild distrust. Although those with voyeuristic tendencies might think it is a nice way to spy on others without getting arrested. What interesting stuff you can spy on in a store I do not know, but there has been the odd story told to me about the things people get up to in a shop – apparently supermarkets can be a cheap date. Who knew?

My take on the whole idea is as follows, ignoring any privacy concerns. Since there is a cash prize for catching crooks, you can be sure there will be people checking out a camera, probably from work. These eager beavers will initially click the alarm button every time they see someone scratch their posterior, thereby creating even more work for retailers’ security staff as they run after loyal customers, mace and batons at the ready.

So the retailers will quickly tire of the false alarms and go back to their original belief that CCTV is more trouble than it is worth (of course, we are referring to the front store now). The lack of rewards will also quickly make the voyeuristic snitches lose interest and go back to downloading porn and illegal songs and movies on their work computers. Of course, the fact that users need to pay a subscription for the privilege of exercising their voyeuristic muscle may dampen their spirit as well.

And apart from all that, imagine how busy you would be in South Africa, especially if they went and put cameras in the storage and loading areas. You would have to hire a squadron of special forces commandos to keep up.

On the other hand, it is in the UK and they are in the process of changing their version of Security Industry Alliance quite dramatically so maybe lazy Internet layabouts are the only resources that it can afford. If that is the case, I want to volunteer; a bit of social security and a broadband connection and I will be happy.

There will be more about the SIA saga in the January issue. Safe to say, our security associations are going strong and we will have comment from the people who count.

I wonder if they need any volunteers to keep a watchful eye for untoward activities in the Victoria’s Secret changing rooms?

Andrew Seldon, editor



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